South32 holds an 86 per cent interest in Worsley Alumina, while Japan Alumina Associated owns 10 per cent and Sojitz Alumina Pty Ltd owns four per cent. Worsley Alumina has been mining bauxite, and refining and exporting alumina since 1984.
Bauxite mining takes place near the town of Boddington, 130km south-east of Perth, Western Australia.
After crushing, the bauxite is transported to the alumina refinery via an overland conveyor system that stretches more than 50km, making it one of the longest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The refinery extracts alumina using the Bayer process.
The four-stage Bayer process – digestion, clarification, precipitation and calcination – turns the red bauxite rock into white alumina powder.
The alumina is then transported by rail 55km from the refinery to the Bunbury Port where it is exported to smelters throughout the world including South32’s Hillside and Mozal aluminium smelters in southern Africa.
The history of the Worsley project dates back to the 1960s when a group of local business people formed a company to explore, develop and sell deposits of bauxite ore from the eastern side of the Darling Range, near Boddington.
The Worsley refinery site, 15km from Collie, was selected in 1978 because of its proximity to the bauxite deposits, Bunbury port facilities, Collie coalfields and other vital infrastructure. Ideal soil conditions and fresh water were other key advantages of the site.
The project was given the green light from the Western Australian Government in 1980 and construction commenced. At the time it was Australia’s most expensive capital project, costing A$1.2 billion and employing 3,500 people.
The first bauxite from the Boddington Bauxite Mine was conveyed overland to the refinery on 6 October 1983 and by the end of the month some 50,000 tonnes had arrived.
The first alumina was produced in April 1984 in the midst of a world-wide recession and a slump in alumina prices. Production began at 1Mtpa and has steadily increased through expansion projects, efficiency and new technology to reach a capacity of 4.6Mtpa in 2014.
Through ownership changes and fluctuating market conditions, Worsley has remained one of the world’s largest and most efficient alumina producers.
Dino Otranto - Vice President Operations, Worsley Alumina
Prior to his current role, Dino Otranto held the role of Worsley Refinery General Manager. Dino started his career with renewable energies in The Netherlands and holds qualifications in Engineering, Science, and Finance. Dino has held various operational and maintenance roles at Worsley Alumina and the Mozal Aluminium Smelter, Mozambique, since joining BHP Billiton/South32 in 2004.
PROUD COMMUNITY MEMBER
Worsley is proud to have been part of the South West and Peel regions of Western Australia for more than 30 years.
We are the largest private employer in the South West region with the vast majority of our employees and contractors living in local communities, which include Greater Bunbury, Collie, Boddington and surrounds.
Our operations inject more than A$1 million a day into these communities through wages, local business spend and community investment.
Regular research and community engagement helps us understand these local communities - their issues, needs and aspirations - as well as the social impacts and opportunities associated with our operations, how we are performing and how we are perceived.
Employing locally, supporting local business and looking after the environment have consistently rated as the topics that are most important to our local communities. As such, these are major focus areas for Worsley.
Worsley is committed to creating shared value and making a positive contribution to the quality of life of the communities where we operate. Worsley’s Community Grants program provides one-off donations of A$1,000-A$5,000 to local community groups in Collie, Boddington and Greater Bunbury. For grant guidelines, closing dates and the application form please click here. Worsley also aims to leave a sustainable, positive legacy in its local communities through targeted community investment. In line with what local communities have told us, we are refocussing this investment towards empowering communities to protect and enhance their unique environment.
Worsley is committed to being a good neighbour and community member. We meet regularly with our neighbours and other stakeholders to understand and manage impacts and maximise opportunities associated with its operations and plans. Worsley has long-running Community Liaison Committees for its mine and refinery. The committees are a major conduit of information between Worsley and the community, allowing us to share details of our activities and plans while also listening to community issues, concerns and aspirations. The committees are made up of members of the local community as well as representatives from community groups and government agencies.